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Garda body calls for change after sick domestic abuser Paul Moody resigns with pension

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, Mr O’Connor said members were ‘absolutely shocked and appalled, at what emerged and what the victim was put through’.
Paul Moody

Paul Moody

Paul Moody. Collins Photo

Paul Moody. Collins Photo

Paul Moody. Collins Photo

Paul Moody. Collins Photo

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

The President of the GRA, Brendan O’Connor, has said he would welcome change to the garda pensions system after evil Garda Paul Moody was able to resign last night with his Garda pension intact.

Paul Moody of St Raphael’s Manor, Celbridge, Kildare, was yesterday sentenced to three years and three months in prison for coercively controlling the woman, known as Nicola.

The court heard Moody sent her thousands of “vile, abusive and threatening” messages over a three-and-a-half-year period starting in May 2017

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, Mr O’Connor said members were “absolutely shocked and appalled, at what emerged and what the victim was put through”.

“It's a very difficult day for members of the Garda Siochana. It's very difficult for members to deal with,” he added.

“The fact that a serving member was involved in such a terrible thing, it’s hard for our members to comprehend. But our colleagues ensured that the victim got justice.

“And they pursued this case and ensured it would be investigated to a very high level. The message from our members is that we want to reach out to victims and ensure that it doesn't matter who the perpetrator is or their perceived status, that if you make a complaint, it will be pursued.

“You'll get your rights vindicated and support services will be there to get you to a place of safety, and accompany you through all the steps of the investigation and to the day in court where justice will be visited upon the perpetrators.”

Mr O’Connor also addressed the issue that people will be raising questions about how Moody was able to resign from the force last night on a Garda pension.

Mr O’Connor said: “I completely understand why people would be thinking like that.

“But for change or to address this will require legislative change in relation to the finance regulations.

“It’s a very important that justice is seen to be done and certainly this is an element in this case. “It certainly needs to be looked at going forward. I would see merit in change.”

Meanwhile, Women’s Aid has said that a higher level of sentencing should be considered in cases of coercive control, after Moody was jailed for three years and three months.

The law for the offence came into effect in January 2019.

Paul Moody. Collins Photo

Paul Moody. Collins Photo

Judge Martin Nolan noted that the maximum sentence available to the court for this offence is five years.

Speaking about the sentence of three years and three months handed down to Moody, and the fact that the maximum sentence is five years, Sarah Benson said: “I think this is something we may need to reflect on in the future.

“I think a case like this really does give us pause when you see that a relationship of four years, the vast majority of which was constituted through degradation, humiliation, violence and pain perpetrated against the victim and the sentence resulting, I think perhaps a higher level of sentencing should be considered.

“I think that's something that we need to reflect on."

Speaking about the fact that the perpetrator was a garda, she added: “We know through our direct services that it does have a chilling effect on somebody if the perpetrator is somebody in a position of standing.

“That could be somebody, you know, in another profession where somebody may feel they won't be believed, that this person is a pillar of society, and nowhere more would that be in the case when the perpetrator is a member of the gardai.

“It is not just about the position, it is also about the access to information, and access to the PULSE system. But I think I would take great confidence from the statements from the gardai that they did respond so thoroughly and without hesitation to this report.”

Ms Benson added that this was not the first garda who has been convicted of coercive control.

“We think that it's absolutely crucial that that message goes out there that, no matter what, whether it's discussing with your local support service with Women's Aid and with the guards, and the Garda Ombudsman, there are different avenues to support survivors to go through that very difficult and delicate process, she added.

“As I mentioned, there was recent case where the Garda Ombudsman Commission was involved, so this is not the first case.

“We would always encourage somebody to start that conversation first with a specialist support service to tease things out and then explore how to safely make a statement and pursue what they would like in terms of access to justice.”

The court heard how Moody sent the woman over 30,000 messages over those years and in one 14-hour period, in July 2018, sent her 652 messages, amounting to one message every 90 seconds.

Paul Moody. Collins Photo

Paul Moody. Collins Photo

The messages were described in court as threatening, vile and abusive. In one message he described her as being “riddled with cancer”, in another, while she was on holiday without him, he said he hoped she would “get raped and bleed”.

In another, after they had a row while on holiday together, he messaged her the following morning and said she was “flaunting your body around the pool” calling her a “dirtbox” and a “scumbag”.

The man threatened to stick a knife in her in one voice message.

Judge Nolan said Moody's behaviour was at the highest end of the offence but the court had to take Moody's guilty plea into consideration and he reduced a five year headline sentence to three years and three months.

He said Moody had carried out a catalogue of vile and humiliating criminal misbehaviour. He said he abused his position as a garda to obtain information which he used to harass and humiliate the victim and he also endangered her life by driving recklessly at one point.

The guilty plea was accepted on the basis of full facts in relation to a further 19 counts including harassment, assault causing harm, criminal damage, threats to cause criminal damage, endangerment, theft and threats to kill.

Moody joined the gardaí in 2000 but was suspended from duty in March 2021, following a search of his home arising out of this investigation.

Sean Gillane SC, defending, told the court that his client will resign from An Garda Siochana.

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